California: CDC Funds Bay Area Collaborative to Deliver HIV Prevention to Asians and Pacific Islanders
August 25, 2010
CDC is supporting new HIV prevention outreach to Asian and Pacific Islander (API) men who have sex with men (MSM) in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center (APIWC), Asian Americans for Community Involvement, and Asian Health Services will collaborate on the initiative, thanks to a five-year, $1.9 million grant.
"Traditional HIV prevention programs often overlook the unique needs of the API community," said Carlos Bermudez, director of health education at APIWC. "Successful HIV prevention programs must address the complex interplay of homophobia, racism, and cultural or linguistic isolation to really get API MSM into HIV testing and reduce their risk."
To lower HIV risk at individual and community levels, the collaborative will use community and group interventions as well as counseling and HIV testing. Outreach will focus on personal stories that interweave identity, sexuality, and health.
The API community comprises more than 49 distinct ethnic groups speaking more than 100 languages and dialects. More than two-thirds of Asian Americans and half of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have never been tested for HIV. A major challenge is reaching the community with lifesaving prevention and education information.
In San Francisco, HIV rates among APIs increased 487 percent from 1990 to 2000. APIs comprise one-third of the Bay Area's general population, and high levels of HIV risk behavior have been observed among API MSM.
"We want this unique approach to have a visionary impact. We want to reduce HIV incidence and eradicate HIV-related stigma," said Lance Toma, executive director of APIWC. "Together, the API MSM community can take collective responsibility for its health."
Indian Country Today (Canastota, N.Y.)
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